Are You A Trusted Customer Success Master®?

Chief Customer Officer

I am passionate about helping sales professionals excel as Customer Success Masters by understanding the difference between 'selling' and 'serving'. Customers desire to buy vs. being sold. Teaching sales leaders the art of being customer centric vs. sales centric is my goal. I desire to present opportunities to grow, thrive and prosper to S.O.A.R.R.™ (Serving Others thru Actions & Relationships, Repeat). Customer Success is My Passion; Celebrated Partnership is The Goal®

There are innumerable opportunities for growth in your entrepreneurial life as a B2B customer success master®; it can be a challenge to realize all of the opportunities available to us. There are the glaring ones, like developing an easier to do business with than your competitor environment or being the most asked for product leader in your sales channel, but there are many other factors that contribute to being labeled an industry leader. Here’s checklist of 5 things that can serve as motivator for you — helping you rise to the top of your sales channel and stay there:

 1. Being honest! –Your customers’ trust is the greatest asset you can have as an industry leader. We can be industry leaders of bad stuff as well as the good stuff. We can be labeled as unreliable and/or known for executing agreements that are basically worthless which is a leadership position we certainly do not want to earn. Even the association with individuals within your circle known for shady dealings, can destroy the trust you worked hard to earn. We can lose customers’ trust much faster than we earn can earn their trust when we aren’t transparent. Case in Point: Lance Armstrong a former professional road racing cyclist previously held seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, but was stripped of his titles in 2012 after a protracted doping scandal. Mr. Armstrong was the poster child of leadership books for many years.  Mr. Armstrong denied doping for years while apparently partaking of the stuff when others weren’t looking. When he ‘came clean’ his trust plummeted like a rock from a mountain. Not only did Mr. Armstrong lose trust of his fans (his customers), his innocent team members took a hit as well. Even his recent ‘come clean’ stance hasn’t worked out because of the trust he lost with his fan base (customers). Keep your transactions open and transparent to enhance the trust you have earned. Be the same when no one is looking as you are when in the spotlight.
2. Are you a trusted source of information? –Customers naturally trust Customer Success Masters® that provide reliable and accurate market information. It goes without saying gossip about a competitor reduces the credibility of the one spreading the gossip. Think about the metaphorical action of pointing a finger at someone. One finger is pointed outward and 3 fingers are pointing back at you. By market information I mean ideas, marketing tips, sales tips and business tips to make one more efficient to enhance their sell thru. When you combine the quality of  your content with consistent distribution to your customers, you hold the formula for improved credibility. Improved credibility deepens your influence and we all know leadership is influence.
 3. Are you a thought leader? —Are you a contributor to your industry trade mags? Are you asked to speak at trade shows? Do you offer to speak to local civic clubs about the state of the industry and products you represent on behalf of your local customers? If not, you should offer to speak. You strengthen your position as an authority when you are sharing knowledge in your sales channel even with folks who are not your direct customer (end users).
 4. Do you have a personal relationship with your market? —Customer Success Masters® (leaders) care about more than just moving boxes month after month. I have preached the concept of “Sell Thru” vs. “Sell To” to help our B2B customers thrive and prosper. If your hobby involves using your product, What ‘sell thru’ programs can you create for your customers based on your personal involvement as an end user of your product? Programs and marketing ideas that won’t extract a toll into your customers’ open to buy — but will instead help sell more gear to their customers? I will say it again and often, I have never met a customer that refuses to buy inventory that sells. Using your personal relationship with your products enhances your credibility with your customer.
 5. Are you and your co-workers recognized with awards in your industry? —Being recognized as the best helps establish you and your team as sales channel leaders and fuels your future growth. Earning Rep of The Year, Humanitarian Awards say tons about how the producers in your sales channel view you and your team as contributors to their success. Your credibility soars with your customers and exponentially so when more than one industry producer recognizes your efforts.
                                                                            BONUS POINT
 6. Do you have a reputation for treating people well?–Whether you’re dealing with a buyer that creates purchase orders or an influencer like the folks on the receiving dock, it’s important to treat people with respect. Consider my personal experience. When I was a young rep beginning my success journey I obtained the names, birthdates and home addresses of all employees of my customers. I made a strong effort to send birthday cards with my business card enclosed and a simple “have a great day.’ comment. The influencers I touched with a $1.00 thank you card elevated my influence with the whole organization. My products were always nicely displayed and my shipments were always received and unpacked the same day received. RA’s were almost non-existent because those to whom I showed respect just handled the issue because they could vs. calling for an RA because it was simple to shrug off the issue. Decision makers (customers) want to know that their money is going to a customer success master with a respect for their non-PO producing people in their organization. Paraphrasing Matthew Gordon of Graduation Source, “Influencers are the core of an organization’s success. You need to invest in their happiness and development if you want to have any real growth and innovation.”  Test yourself. Walk around all areas of your customers business to see if you are recognized or greeted. If they do not know you or you them, then get with the influencing others routine.
What This Means To You! —Becoming a respected Customer Success Master® is challenging, and maintaining consistent respect with customers can be harder. There will always be a newcomer offering a new product or service or throwing around discounts. Going through the above list will help you fight off any challenger threatening to end your reign. BUT, you must work on the above and consistently and respectfully remind your customer that you embody the above. Remember, never assume a customer always knows and remembers why you are good for their business. Think About it!

The Worst Complaint We Can Make

The worst complaint we can make “I don’t have enough time” and I am the most guilty!

All of us are really busy people. The world moves faster than ever and we’re expected to do more than ever with fewer resources. Our personal and business lives can get pretty crazy, but I’ll tell you the one complaint that bugs me about me more than anything… I don’t have enough time. Yes, I am most guilty of using this term. The multi-tasking ‘thing’ is highly over-rated and frankly a waste of time and brain cells in my opinion. What some call multitasking is really task-switching, says Guy Winch, PhD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries. “When it comes to attention and productivity, our brains have a finite amount.”

Recently I lost my cool witha leader in my current corporate America career assignemnt regarding a project. I blew my cool claiming ‘not enough time  to launch a project AND ‘make the month.’  I regret I lost my temper with this indidual. Thankfully I work with organization that allows folks like me to state their mind without fear of reprisal or they just tolerate me because I am closing in on my re-purpose date. I am leaning toward the former. 🙂  That said, I should have sought better understanding and clarity regarding the level of priority this individual placed on the proposed project. Clearly our views on the priority of the project were 180 degrees apart. I considered the project minor in the overall picture of our mission and he considered it a major project. We are yet to reach agreement regarding the priority of the project but we’re closer than ever and that’s a topic for a future post. Regardless of our disagrement I should not have lost my temper with him.  

What This Means To You!

The key is to gain clarity and understanding of team priorities then schedule our priorities rather than prioritize what’s on our schedule (paraphrased Steven Covey Quote).  Everyone reading this post has 24 hours each day.  No more. No less. All humans has 24 hours in their day, seven days in their week, and 365 (366 next year) days in their year. We can’t buy time. We can’t trade time. Time is one of our most valuable asset because we can’t get more of it. Time is a luxury and we all need to treat it that way. So instead, the one complaint you’re allowed to make is….I have too much to do!

Yes, it’s all about priorities. Understanding and ranking our shared priorities is key to building strong relationships with our customers (our leaders are our customers too). All of us have 24 hours and we have a list of things to do daily, weekly, monthly and annually. We can only edit, change, or improve those things. Let’s start investing more time on our priorities rather than complaining about not having enough time. We can’t add time, but we CAN subtract tasks especially busy work.

THINK ABOUT IT!!